Bride of Listener Feedback

More replies to some of Skeptoid's more colorful listener feedback.

by Brian Dunning

Filed under Feedback & Questions

Skeptoid #169
September 1, 2009
Podcast transcript | Listen | Subscribe
 

So I was skipping along merrily down the lane today, when suddenly I felt the urge to have the weight of the world descend upon my shoulders and crush me into oblivion. So I contrived to check Skeptoid's listener feedback. Mission accomplished.

The courageously anonymous Zoot from Youngstown, OH was displeased with my episode about the Pacific Garbage Patch, in which I showed how horribly exaggerated are the popular stories telling of a solid island of trash the size of Texas in the middle of the ocean:

This is why humankind deserves to be culled. Especially the author of this article. Humankind will pay for years of viral destruction on this earth and I hope its a gruesome and horrid end.

Humans should all be killed for having trash, and I especially should be killed for urging cooler heads to prevail with regards to the myths about the Garbage Patch. Zoot, I invite you to send me this message personally, in writing, with your name and address (the District Attorney would love it). I'm happy to send you anything I have to say on the matter, with my name attached, because I believe in what I say and I stand behind it. Do you?

Probably Zoot is just a kid, but there are people who really feel this way. Doing Skeptoid gives me the opportunity to converse with a lot of people, and there is absolutely a contingent of people who call themselves environmentalists, but really they're just anti-human. Creating trash is just the excuse of the day for hating their species. I'm really interested in new technologies that reduce waste, improve efficiency, and give us better standards of living with less collateral damage; but it's because I love people and love living on Earth, and I want to make it better. Zoot proposes a slightly darker solution, and the reason seems to be that Zoot, and the anti-human so-called environmentalists of his ilk, hate people and hate living on Earth. Zoot, seek professional help, or fulfill your dreams by jumping into a volcano. It doesn't leave any offensive mess.

Peter J. Mota from Torrance, CA has one leg up on Zoot, because he at least gives his name. Not only that, he gives us a window into his intelligence level with his comment:

i'll keep it brief,your full of shit,get a life.get a job at burger king.could not submit,coward.proves your a nut case.

There's some fine spelling and punctuation in there. This was the entirety of his comment about Kangen water, the multilevel marketing program that sells absurdly overpriced water filters with all sorts of implausible health claims. Nearly all the people who commented on this episode were people who had been suckered into the program and were parroting the health claims in a desperate bid to recover their foolish investments. I have to assume Peter J. Mota is doing the same thing, just less artfully. I've never bought anything yet based on a string of of crudely strung together profanities and insults; but who knows, maybe this pitch technique is the new wave.

But I don't mean to give the impression that all the mail I get is like that. It's actually a small minority. A lot of it is better thought-out criticism. Ian from Canada commented on my episode about chiropractic, which began with a description of how the Palmers created the system:

Charles darwin married his close cousin and a few of his kids died because of it, according to Brian in this situation where the creator of an idea is flawed in some way everything that spawns from that idea should be immediately dismissed. I guess that means we can´t teach evolution in school as long as Brians alive and able to write.

Ian is trying to make the point that just because I said something critical of the Palmers, that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the chiropractic arts they invented. This is, of course, quite true: An ad hominem attack on a person says nothing about anything that person may have done or developed. The only problem is that I didn't say anything critical about the Palmers, only about chiropractic itself. Indeed, the Palmers were doing the best they could at a time in history when little useful or true information was known about the way the human body works.

I'll say something critical about the Palmers now, though: Maybe they should have gotten a clue when the convictions for practicing medicine without a license started coming down. Their response should have been to go to medical school; but instead, they started an organization to fund legal defenses of themselves and their students against such charges...as if avoiding medical school was a gallant and heroic thing to do. Ian's right, this criticism says nothing about the validity of chiropractic; but it certainly says something of chiropractic's assessment of medical science.

As long as we're talking about alternatives to medicine, let's hear from "She" in Independence, MO. "She" said:

I just started bioidentical hormomes after researching. My Gosh, after starting bio hormones....one week later...I feel great! I acutally feel "normal." ... I would not take phar. drugs unless I had no other choice. Have you watched the commercial on tv? Everything causes so many other symptoms...

I don't remember seeing any commercials for hormone replacement therapies, but certainly there are commercials for many prescription drugs, and these are probably what "She" is referring to. Drugs that have been tested and approved are required to include certain information in their advertising. This is why every time you see an ad for a drug in a magazine, it's followed by whole pages of small print detailing the required testing that was done. On television, there are usually 30 or more seconds devoted to a discussion of possible side effects and what to do about them. "She" has been sold on untested, unapproved drugs by someone who did not go to medical school. Rather than be concerned about having been given incomplete information, "She" takes the absence of legally required disclosure to mean that there are no side effects to disclose.

I wonder about this. "She" is probably an average person, and the average person compares a sales pamphlet in a naturopath's office that lists only miraculous benefits, to a magazine ad for drug followed by all sorts of small print. Which should the average person choose, who has no knowledge of testing or reporting requirements? The average intelligent layperson can only conclude that the untested product is indeed miraculous, and the approved product is fraught with poisonous side effects. We can't criticize "She" or other folks who are only doing their best with the knowledge they have; we should instead regret that the FDA is grossly underfunded and can't remotely keep up with the daily flood of new, untested charlatan products coming onto the market. Bioidentical hormones are not necessarily charlatan products; they are, after all, intended to be exactly the same "identical" molecule as the prescription version. The difference is the source, purity, and dosage are unknown. That's the essential price you pay for demanding a drug that comes without disclosure.

I had a lot of fun researching the episode about Coral Castle, the rock park in Florida built by Ed Leedskalnin. Since he was just one man, people have imagined all sorts of (frankly) stupid hypotheses about how he could have moved such heavy blocks single handed: That he used "magnetic vortex energy" or even that he sang them into place. What's much more interesting is the common sense methods that he actually did use: leverage, blocks and tackle, and ingenuity. Paul from Walnut Creek, CA, said:

It's good that you appreciated Leedskalnin as an engineer. On things like this, or Stonehenge or the Pyramids, there's a tendency by some to suggest that the techniques used must have been a strict subset of what's used today. But technology doesn't work that way. It's perfectly reasonable to expect that peoples who worked with stone for centuries would have clever building techniques that we don't have today (techniques we don't have simply because we haven't needed them for a long time). That doesn't make them magicians or aliens, just good engineers. Ancient peoples were not dumber versions of ourselves, nor were they especially enlightened; they just lived under different circumstances.

Tip Skeptoid $2/mo $5/mo $10/mo One time

Paul put this very well. There are only a few master samurai swordmakers left in Japan, and one day it may become a lost art. That doesn't mean that the ancient swordmakers must have used magic or had aliens helping them. Neither did Ed Leedskalnin. Neither did the Egyptians who built the pyramids: To this day we don't know the most basic fundamentals of how they did it. If we do learn how it was done some day, that knowledge is going to be far more captivating than the goofy supernatural explanations proposed by the people who have given up trying to learn.

That's what I think is the biggest tragedy of those who accept the supernatural: They're missing out on the wonder of science. When you look at a 30-ton block of coral and conclude that magic must be the only way a single small man could have moved it, you have stopped trying to learn, and you miss out on a truly delightful and creative application of mechanics.

When you dismiss medical science because of its imperfections and turn instead to magic-based therapies, you abandon any meaningful understanding of how your own body actually works.

When you settle on a conspiracy theory as the explanation for what happens in world news, you effectively stop searching for other sources, and you miss out on the real causes and motivations that drive what happens in politics and economics.

The answer is to be more skeptical, and to require a higher standard for what you believe. Keep on thinking, keep on questioning, and keep that listener feedback coming my way.

Brian Dunning

© 2009 Skeptoid Media, Inc. Copyright information

References & Further Reading

Grimes, D. You Know You're in Florida When...: 101 Quintessential Places, People, Events, Customs, Lingo, and Eats of the Sunshine State. Guilford: Globe Pequot, 2005. 18-19.

Jarvis,William T. PhD. "Chiropractic: A Skeptical View." Chirobase. Chirobase, 28 Apr. 2000. Web. 30 Apr. 2010. <http://www.chirobase.org/01General/skeptic.html>

Keating, J., Rehm, W. "The Origins and Early History of the National Chiropractic Association." The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association. 1 Mar. 1993, v.37(1): 27-51.

Leach, R. The Chiropractic Theories: A Textbook of Scientific Research. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2004. 15-18.

Rossi, C., Russo, Flavio, Russo, Ferruccio. Ancient Engineers' Inventions: Precursors of the Present (History of Mechanism and Machine Science). Naples: Springer Science + Business Media, 2009.

Thomson, Peter. "Coral Castle." Ancient History, Fact or Fiction. Peter Thomson, 1 Jan. 2005. Web. 24 Jan. 2010. <http://www.peter-thomson.co.uk/coralcastle/coralcastle.html>

Reference this article:
Dunning, B. "Bride of Listener Feedback." Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, Inc., 1 Sep 2009. Web. 24 Nov 2014. <http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4169>

Discuss!

10 most recent comments | Show all 36 comments

Just goes to show that the egyptians may not have needed calculators to work.

Thanks for the logical fallacy

that must be x, I dont know how they did x..

Could you note that good old Herodotus probably wrote his guff about as long after as you just wrote yours after Herodotus did. Herodotus had no clue to the might and the processes of the kingdoms.

I am sure Brian has pointed this out (and his bloopers) elsewhere.

You only need to look at any other massive monument or city. Some are clearly built in a short period and some are purpose built for a long period.

The ancient egyptians did it because they could. Just like any other civilisation with the disposable assets.

When I think of how, the question of design and implement surely crosses my mind as well..

I dont preface it with notional statements. There is a hell of a lot of brilliant engineering and materials design (yes) in that project.

The ancients werent stupid, in fact, the great pyramid is but one example of their breath taking breadth of sciences.

The question is and remains, why werent these continued for future kingdoms and passed on by trade?

Maybe it was religious guilds, maybe it was pharaonic insularity in competetion with a greater civilisation 1000km away..

Maybe they used calculators and despised logging and peer review...

who knows?

It was and is astounding.

Please rev Caesarea, the Roman Syrian domination, Petra and Carthage

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
December 5, 2012 11:48pm

I asked the question of how the ancients built the pyramid in such a short time, if we are to take the wiki as reasonable truth.

Just that nothing more. The logistics of just quarrying and transport of one block every 5 minutes to site, is amazing, never mind the lifting and fitting to plan, 24 hours day and night for 20 years, assuming that we take the longer estimate as gospel by the Egyptologists.

It IS an astounding monument to its builders and designers.

Never mind all the mind-clutter,
have you an inkling of an idea how it was all done, Mud ?

And why do you mention logical fallacy in your post?

Macky, Auckland
December 6, 2012 6:58pm

"Love to know how it was all done."

from Wikipedia: "Along with bread, beer was a staple of the ancient Egyptians and was drunk daily. Like most modern African beers, but unlike European beer, it was very cloudy with plenty of solids and highly nutritious, quite reminiscent of gruel. "

There's your answer : the promise of beer. Same way you get your buddies to come help you move.

suecd, Winnipeg
July 2, 2013 3:05pm

Thanks suecd

Well that clears that up.

One thing though, assuming their beer had as much alcohol in it as modern day stuff (excepting Mud's home brew of course, which definitely gives me the impression of being at brain cell-destroying strength) were the Egyptians known to drink it before, during, or after work ?

After all, you don't dish the beer out to your buddies until after you've moved, that's if you want the job done.

Macky, Auckland
July 2, 2013 6:16pm

Thanx Macky for your generous appreciation of my talents once again..

Beer was historically drunk to improve the local waters of some areas. Macky is right, many brews may have always been around the horrible 1-2% mark (un storable) and lactated very quickly. Ie, spoiled.

Sure, Royal beer, Temple beer and getting drunk beer may have been produced for riproarious derring do's made by various methods for patronage purposes.

The common everyday stuff was (and still is) made by very spoilable procedures. (should one bother to look things up). Commercial beers are very different to the horrible stuff none of us would drink from the third world sorghum and chewed mashes

Preserved foods and beverages exist for a reason.

Now as to comments about brewing, Macky has previously indicated that he knows nothing on the subject.

To my brewing, I have been doing it responsibly for many decades as any other food preparation.

I guess but the constant fantasising about my life is adorable.

Its clearly another indication of ragged posting bereft of material.

Magnanamous Dinoflagellate, sin city, Oz
July 2, 2013 7:59pm

Well at least I got some decent information from Mag.Din. Mud-Henk Whatsaname. Makes for a nice change.

Proof that his no-doubt excellent home-brew is not always at brain cell-destroying strength.

It still leaves the question of how the Egyptians were able to quarry, shape, transport, lift/drag and fit to precision a block every 5 minutes for 20 years night and day, if we are to take the experts' estimation as reasonably correct.

After all, the promise of "beer at the end of moving house" bribe would wear a bit thin I would think, after all that time, even on a daily basis, not to mention the heaviest household piano wouldn't come anywhere near the weight of even the lightest pyramid blocks.

Macky, Auckland
July 4, 2013 2:15am

Who are you talking to and what are you fantasizing about?

Mud, sin city, Oz
August 6, 2013 7:05am

Skeptoid.

"It still leaves the question of how the Egyptians were able to quarry, shape, transport, lift/drag and fit to precision a block every 5 minutes for 20 years night and day, if we are to take the experts' estimation as reasonably correct."

No fantasies, just a straight question.

Macky, Auckland
August 9, 2013 2:36am

The pyramids of ancient Egypt are certainly a marvel to behold. The sheer size of those structures coupled with the technology required to design and build them captures our imagination. Having said this, there is one painfully simple and obvious fact that anyone has failed to mention -that for all their glory and splendour the ancient pyramids were ultimately a total and dismal failure. Why, you ask?Well after all they were constructed with one purpose in mind ;to resurrect the dead pharoah.The mummy is still in the sarcophagus and still surrounded by their treasure. I rest my case.

Sbo, Durban
September 19, 2013 8:09am

Geez Sbo, if I were a big wig in any ancient civilisation and I was pragmatic enough to realise that everyone will forget me within a few decades of death..

I'd like some sort of monument.

If I had the economy and the technology to do so after the millenia of practice and civilisation, I'd build a whacking great monument.

But thats applying my ego to an ancient society.

Today you have to be a lot more than a big wig with a ressurection excuse to ask for any monument at all.

That, and its likely to be pulled down if people have a change of heart.

It really is amasing tho, what the ancients could do and the technologies reinvented every time a civilisation goes awry.

We can immediately see the effect of antequarian societies downfall and the period of junk science that ensued.

Mind you, 800 years of great guessing and watching it fall over has at least fostered great historical debate on "who, what and where" when it came to science, math and literature.

Brian's lost time and Al Khazali skeptoids are great examples of this.

Mill Deflower, sin city, Oz
October 8, 2013 8:13pm

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